Newman reiterated her claim that she was “ashamed” for not recognizing the importance of her friend, Susan Berman, telling her that she had helped Durst pull a ruse in the mysterious disappearance of his first wife, Kitty Durst. Berman told Newman she made a phone call posing as Kitty Durst after she disappeared. Kitty Durst was never seen again and finally was declared dead.
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Ironically, Robert Durst is now on trial for Berman’s murder in December 2000.
Newman said under cross-examination that she told Deputy District Attorney John Lewin in 2015 that
“there were times” that she was confused as to whether what Berman said was true or not. She added that Berman subsequently rescinded her account about the alibi and it was never again discussed.
“Do you remember telling Mr. Lewin in September of 2015, `I felt like I’m not sure it’s true,’ referring to the alibi issue, and `I don’t want to, you know, put forth something that could just be nonsense?,” one of Durst’s attorneys, David Chesnoff, asked.
“Yes,” she responded.
Newman said that she didn’t tell police in 2001 about the alibi conversation because she simply didn’t remember it at the time. She said she doesn’t recall exactly when the conversation with Berman
She said she was chagrined when she realized the significance of what Berman had told her.
“Well, I was ashamed that … I didn’t appreciate the gravity of what she was saying to me and that I blithely accepted her back-tracking and rescinding …,” Newman said.
Newman said she felt Berman sensed that she had “told me something that I didn’t approve
of and wanted to back-pedal because she didn’t want to get in trouble.”
The former original SNL member also acknowledged her past drug use. “If you’re trying to drive a point to the idea that I would say something that didn’t happen, that’s not true,” she told Durst’s attorney.
Durst has been in prison since March 14, 2015. He was arrested in a New Orleans hotel hours before the final episode of an HBO series on the disappearance of Kathie Durst and the killing of Berman.
EARLIER: Saturday Night Live alumna Laraine Newman said today that a friend created an alibi for alleged killer Robert Durst in the death of Durst’s first wife.
Durst is on trial in Los Angeles for the death of Susan Berman, who was shot in December 2000. But Newman testified today about another incident where her longtime friend Berman told her that she provided a false alibi for Durst related to the disappearance of his first wife, Kathie Durst. She was never seen again and was later declared dead in 2017.
“Do you know how you found out that (Kathie Durst) had disappeared?” Deputy District Attorney John Lewin asked.
“Susan told me that she had provided an alibi for him, for Bobby, in relation to the disappearance,” the Newman testified. “I remember her saying that she made a phone call.”
Asked how sure she was that Berman told her about providing an alibi, Newman replied, “100%.”
“And in discussing this alibi, did she indicate to you whether or not in words whether this was an actual alibi or whether she had done something false?” the prosecutor asked.
“It was something false,” Newman said, adding that she “responded negatively” to the news from Berman, who then backtracked.
The friends never discussed the subject again, she said, but Newman noted that she felt “tremendous shame that I did not appreciate the gravity of what she was telling me.”
Newman will be back on the witness stand Thursday afternoon for continuing cross-examination by one of Durst’s attorneys, David Chesnoff.
The 78-year-old Durst is a real estate scion from New York. He stands charged with Berman’s killing. The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegation that she was killed because she was a witness to a crime.
Prosecutors claims Berman made a phone call on Durst’s behalf, posing as Kathie Durst. The defendant’s attorneys scoffed at the allegation.
The trial has been delayed by more than a year by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Durst saga was chronicled in the 2015 HBO documentary The Jinx.
CNS contributed to this report.
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